Guest Post: My Long Term Relationship with Running

Note from the real RiledUpRunner:

Below is a guest post from my girl Meredith, who you might remember from that time I went to Austin, Texas, and gained 45 delicious pounds. You may also remember her from that time she threw me an “Anne no longer has mono!” celebration dubbed AnniePalooza, the time she let me pay her for gas money in scratch-off lottery tickets or the time she pushed me off the school bus in kingergarten. Good times all around. Enjoy!

———-

When Anne asked me if I would guest blog for her, I immediately said yes, then started to wonder how I could ever live up to my funny, beautiful best friend with an adorable dog-niece. Lucky for you, I am also (fairly) funny, definitely just as good-looking, and get to call this lovely lady my fur-sister:

Bring it, Keira,

Bring it, Keira.

After tossing around a couple of ideas, I decided that in the spirit of the Cosmo I read cover-to-cover in the park last weekend, I would share the intimate details of my LTR (‘long-term relationship’ for you dudes out there) with running and how I keep our relationship exciting.

There wasn’t immediate chemistry between running and me. In fact, in seventh grade, my basketball coach singled me out for being slow and out of shape during a set of suicides.  I knew my jerk coach was on to something and that I would be better at my true love – basketball – if I ran.  In preparation for the beginning of the next season, I started taking laps around the block before school.  It was probably only a mile, but it got easier, and I eventually started tacking on another block, and then another one.  During the basketball offseason in high school, I ran track, but as a sprinter, I never ran more than a few miles. When basketball and I had a falling out and the end of high school, rugby and I had an exciting fling in college.  Running was still hanging around, but I never considered something like marathon running to be The One.

During winter break of my senior year, I went for a 10-mile run on a cold January day and despite being utterly drained, I felt amazing after it.  From that point on, I started to see running differently.  Maybe he was something more than a casual friend to hang out with when my other sports were busy, and while I had always been a team-sport type of girl, maybe there was something really attractive about that skinny, shy, introverted activity.

I stuck with him, and when I graduated from college and no longer had a team or a free gym, decided to run my first half marathon.  My relationship with running became official when I triumphantly crossed the finish line of the 2008 Baltimore Half in 1:52:59.  It was the beginning what has become a now four-plus year love affair with pounding pavement.  Like any relationships, we’ve had our ups and downs, but I plan to impart my tips for keeping you and running as in love today as you were when you first got together.

  • Do your own thing: Sometimes the thought of going on a run is as appealing as spending your Saturday night cat-sitting (note from RiledUpRunner: see?! This is why we’re friends!).  Keep your relationship fresh by doing things on your own a couple times a week.  Yoga, pilates and Body Pump are my personal favorites, and yes, sometimes I even sneak in a girly date with the elliptical.  Think of cross-training as your friends who keep you sane when running is being a (literal) pain in your butt.
  • Mix it up: I love half marathons, but some of my favorite running experiences were not racing 13.1. I did Ragnar in 2011 and had more fun than should be possible for combining running, no sleep and a van, even though my team was one of the last to finish.  I raced a charity 5k for my brother’s organization, won the race and received a dodgeball instead of a trophy.  I’ve challenged myself with marathons and run races without worrying about time.  While I normally have an A Race with an A Goal, mixing it up during training and between cycles keeps running fun. ends!).  Keep your relationship fresh by doing things on your own a couple times a week.  Yoga, pilates and Body Pump are my personal favorites, and yes, sometimes I even sneak in a girly date with the elliptical.  Think of cross-training as your friends who keep you sane when running is being a (literal) pain in your butt.
  • Dress up: It’s easy to fall into a comfort zone and throw on the first pair of shorts and synthetic fabric t-shirt you grab from your dresser at 6 a.m. and head out mismatched and unkempt.  But I have a general “always appear put-together” rule, and running is no exception.  My favorite race tradition is to wear a hair ribbon that coordinates with my shorts and shirt.  Knowing that you look like you grace the pages of a Nike catalog is a big confidence boost, even if your run is subpar.  It also doesn’t hurt to know you’re looking your sporty best when you spot a (real-life) hottie running with his dog on your route.  (Dear guy with beautiful Golden that runs on Marina Drive at 7 a.m., consider this a Missed Connections post.)
  • Go on exotic vacations together: I’ve never done a true destination race (although I live in an amazing locale with lots of races if anyone wants to come run with me in San Francisco), but even a mini-road trip with my friends Aria and Hannah for the 2011 Richmond Half Marathon/8k was a great experience.  Seeing a new city and spending a few days away from home was a welcome break, and we burned almost enough calories to justify our Sonic pit-stop.
  • Invite some friends to share your fun: No one likes the couple that only hangs out by themselves, posting selfies of themselves on the couch watching a RomCom on a Saturday night while eating a Pinterest-inspired romantic meal.  While the majority of my runs are solo, heading out with a friend (four-legged or two-legged) is a welcome change of pace.  Plus, it’s a good excuse not to stretch after (note: I’m not advocating for skipping stretching to cuddle with 75 pounds of furry love.  Ok, maybe I am…)

post run honey

Running and I have had our ups and downs. However, despite injuries, spending too much time together (like those 50 mile weeks while training for the Philadelphia Marathon), and falling into ruts, like any good boyfriend, running has always been there when I needed him. As a constant in my life, he’s kept me sane through a job I hated, two years of grad school and a cross-country move.

Right now, running and I are in a good place. I live in a super runner-friendly city, where morning temperatures are pretty much always between 45 and 55, a surprising number of guys are down for a running date (whether or not they can keep up is another story), and I get to start my mornings with five-mile jogs along the San Francisco Bay, watching the morning sun reflect off of the Golden Gate Bridge as the sun rises over the City skyline.

Yes, this is where I live and yes it’s really this beautiful every day it’s not foggy.

Yes, this is where I live and yes it’s really this beautiful every day it’s not foggy.

Meredith James has been Anne’s best friend since kindergarten and lives in San Francisco.  She’s run 3 marathons, 11 half marathons and a bunch of 10ks and 5ks.  When she’s not running, you can find Meredith engaging young professionals in philanthropy at The One Percent Foundation and frequenting SF’s finest coffee shops, chocolate factories, bakeries and bars.

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